Is $566m project about to go down the gurgler?
A CRUCIAL water project in Queensland aimed at boosting drinking supply and jobs will be downsized by State Government because of costs, raising serious questions about its feasibility.
An outraged Morrison Government, which agreed to co-fund the Rookwood Weir in Rockhampton, has been unofficially alerted the state will significantly reduce the project's size allegedly because of the cost of cement.
It comes as the State Government plans to cough-up $250 million for a one-off payment to public servants.
It is understood the State Government has not formally told the Commonwealth it will reduce the weir from 76,000 megalitres to 54,000 megalitres. The 40,000 megalitres set aside for agriculture will also be halved.
The Commonwealth is aware the State Government and its government-owned corporation Sunwater, appointed by the State Government to deliver the project, are planning to dramatically limit the weir's capacity.
It is now not certain if the project is feasible, and puts at risk urban water security and the $1 billion it was projected to create for agriculture in the region.
The Courier-Mail can reveal Sunwater advised Commonwealth officials on August 8 that the $352 million project had increased to $566 million.
Water Resources David Littleproud has slapped down the Palaszczuk Government for having perverse priorities.
"The Queensland Government prefers to give bonuses to public servants to help save (Treasurer) Jackie Trad's seat rather than invest in the infrastructure that will build the state,'' Mr Littleproud told The Courier-Mail.
"Why couldn't they change the plans of the Cross River Rail instead. Concrete costs about the same in Rockhampton as it is in Brisbane."
Yesterday, Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham said the capacity of the weir would be decreased but could not reveal by how much because it was still being redesigned.
"Sadly, all the local Federal Members can do is whine, while the Palaszczuk Government gets on with the job of building Rookwood Weir,'' Dr Lynham said.
"I previously announced that because of cost increases, the weir would be built without gates to ensure the project could be delivered on time and within the $352 million project budget for which the Commonwealth declined to commit any further funding."
Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said people had a gutful of Labor's excuses.
"I encourage Dr Anthony Lynham and (local MP) Barry O'Rourke to go and look some of these farmers in the eye and tell them why they are stuffing around with Rookwood Weir,'' Ms Landry said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison wants more dams to be built around the country.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is expected to head to Queensland for a drought tour as early as next week, with the PM gearing-up to making new announcements to help drought-stricken Queensland.